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Arriving in the U.S.

Once you have arrived in the U.S., you will need to complete the registration process in our office.

There is a J-1 Orientation session that will help answer most of your questions about your program and stay in the U.S.

You can find more information about the registration process and orientation sessions below, along with other information about settling into your routine as an international scholar at UC San Diego.

Register at IFSO

All new international scholars must visit the International Faculty and Scholars Office upon arrival in the U.S. We are open weekdays between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm and directions to our office can be found here.

J-1 scholars that are transferring their J-1 status from another U.S. institution should call our office to set up an appointment with an advisor. The advisor will register your record and give you your new DS-2019 from UCSD.

When you register with our office, you will have to provide us with your contact information (address, phone number, and email address) in San Diego.

Please bring the following documents when you register:

  1. Passport
  2. Form DS-2019
  3. Form I-94
  4. Dependent(s) documents (if applicable)
**If you changed to J-1 status in the U.S., please bring your I-797 Approval Notice.

Attend Mandatory J-1 Orientation

Orientation is required for all new J-1 Scholars at UC San Diego.

There are many regulations and requirements pertaining to your J-1 visa status and orientation is an opportunity to learn about these requirements so that violations of your visa status do not occur.

Orientation is also a great way to meet others that are new to the university.

J-1 Orientation

Orientation sessions begin at 9:15 a.m. in the IFSO Office (McGill Hall 2nd Floor Suite 2126) every Wednesday.

See the UC San Diego Transportation Website for more information about visitor parking.

J-2 Family Orientation 

There is also an orientation for family members (J-2 status) on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month. J-2 family members are not required to attend but are encouraged to do so.This begins at the same time and in the same place as the J-1 orientation but J-1s and J-2s will be briefly separated. Children are welcome to attend.

Apply for a Social Security Card

Sample image of SSN

We recommend that you wait 10 days after entering the United States and 5 days after completing the registration process at the International Faculty & Scholar Office to apply for a Social Security Number. You must apply in person at a local Social Security office. Generally, all J-1 scholars in the Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar, and Professor categories are automatically eligible to apply for an SSN. J-1 Student Interns are only eligible if they are being paid by UCSD. 

The following documents are required for a J-1 scholar to apply for a Social Security card:

  • Passport
  • Form I-94 record printed from the USCBP website
  • DS-2019 Form

Apply for a Driver's License

The State of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles does not recognize international drivers licenses. The State of California, however, does recognize your national drivers license as long as it is valid and translated into English. Although the law is ambiguous when dealing with international visitors, we recommend that you get a California drivers license if you are in California over 2 months. Keep in mind that automobile insurance is required by law in the United States and most insurance companies require a valid California drivers license.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires a written test and a road test. No appointment is necessary for the written test, but an appointment and a car are required for the road test.

Scholars in J-1 status must have a social security number in order to apply for a license. Dependents must either show proof of ineligibility by getting a denial letter from the Social Security Administration or apply for a number, if eligible prior to applying for a license.

Temporary permits can be renewed until the card is received.

Apply for a Campus Card

To obtain a UC San Diego ID card, ask your department for assistance. A department administrator needs to complete and authorize the request with a Campus Card Request Form. Take the completed form and go to the Student Services Building located at 402 University Center, 3rd floor, Suite 355. If you are responsible for the fee, it must be paid at the Central Cashier’s Office First.

An affiliated card is eligible for the following:

Postdoctoral Scholars- Fellow or Paid-Direct
Visiting Scholar
Visiting Graduate Student
Family members - spouses are eligible only if the principal is a paid UC San Diego employee.
More information is available at:

Confirm Health Insurance Coverage

The U.S. Department of State regulations require that visitors in J-1 and J-2 statuses maintain proper insurance coverage as a condition of their participation in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. [See 1(f) on back of the DS-2019].

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, we will require proof of your health insurance coverage. See our health insurance page for more information on submitting your proof of enrollment.

IFSO Listserv!

Subscribe to the listserv for International Faculty, Scholars, and Dependents! The listserv includes immigration updates, workshops, and upcoming event information.


Contact IFSO!

International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO)
Phone: (858) 246-1448